27 March 2017

News Story: Grenade blast kills four in S. Philippines

MANILA, March 26 (Xinhua) -- At least four people have been killed and 23 others injured in a grenade explosion in Jolo, the largest of the Sulu islands in southern Philippines, the Philippine military said Sunday.

Col. Cirilito Sobejana, the commanded of Joint Task Force Sulu, said a suspect threw a grenade into a bakeshop in Jolo around 7 p.m. Saturday night that instantly killed three people and hurt more than 20 others.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Three killed, dozens injured in blasts outside militant den in northeastern Bangladesh

DHAKA, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Three people, including a policeman, were killed and dozens of others injured in two explosions Saturday near a militant hideout in Sylhet city, some 240 km northeast of capital Dhaka, local police said.

A police official who preferred not to be named told Xinhua that three people were killed and 26 others including five law enforcers injured in two separate blasts that took place some 400 metres off a five-story building where army commandos have been conducting an operation codenamed "Twilight."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Officials say massive blaze, blasts contained inside ammunition factory in C. India

NEW DELHI, March 26 (Xinhua) -- After hours of firefighting, a massive fire coupled with deafening explosions inside an ammunition factory in India's central state of Madhya Pradesh was brought under control and contained from spreading, officials said Sunday.

The fire broke out Saturday evening following an explosion at Khamaria ordnance factory in Jabalpur district, about 317 km east of Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.

"The fire has been brought under control completely," Mahesh Chandra Choudhary, a senior official in Jabalpur told Xinhua over telephone. "The are no reports of anyone being injured or killed in the incident."

Officials said when the fire erupted in evening, majority of workers had left the factory.

Though authorities reportedly rushed around 50 fire tenders to the spot, it took several hours for the firefighters to contain the inferno.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistan starts border fencing with Afghanistan - army chief

ISLAMABAD, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said Saturday that the country has started fencing border with Afghanistan in a move to stop the cross-border movement of the militants.

Security officials have long been complaining that the Pakistani militants, who have escaped as a result of military operations, now operate from the Afghan soil of the border.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have nearly 2,600-kilometer-long common border, mostly porous, and Pakistani officials insist that bombers could enter Pakistan due to weak border control.

During his visit to Pak-Afghan border areas in Mohmand and Orakzai tribal agencies, Bajwa told the troops that fencing has commenced in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies as they are high threat zones.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistan permits former army chief to lead Islamic Military Alliance

Pakistan's former Army Chief: Gen. Raheel Sharif
ISLAMABAD, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said Saturday that the government has permitted former army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif to lead a military alliance of 39 Islamic countries.

Raheel retired as Pakistan's army chief in November 2016 after completing his three-year term.

It was reported in January that the Islamic Military Alliance (IMA), which was formed in Saudi Arabia in December 2015 to combat terrorism, has picked Raheel to head the grouping. However, controversy surfaced later that he had not sought permission from Islamabad.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Al-Qaeda ‘Leader’ Killed in US Strike in Afghanistan - Pentagon

An al-Qadea insurgent, who was responsible for the death of two American soldiers and accused of involvement in a deadly attack on a bus carrying Sri Lanka's cricket team in 2009, was killed in a U.S airstrike in Afghanistan this week, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The strike took place on March 19 in Paktika province and killed Qari Yasin, "a well-known [Qaeda] terrorist leader," who had ties to the Tehreek-e-Taliban, also known as the Pakistan Taliban, according to the statement.

"The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice," U.S Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in the statement.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: Vietnam lauds ASEAN-New Zealand strategic partnership

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam highly values and welcomes the outcomes of the strategic partnership between ASEAN and New Zealand, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung said at the 24th ASEAN-New Zealand Dialogue held in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 21-22.  

On behalf of ASEAN member states, Dung, who is also Chair of the ASEAN-Vietnam Senior Officials’ Meeting, spoke highly of New Zealand’s role and contributions to regional defence-security over the past years, noting that both sides need to increase collaboration to uphold the role and increase efficiency of regional security cooperation mechanisms led by ASEAN. 

He called for joint work to build the capacity of coping with security challenges, including preventive diplomatic measures and improvement of the capacity of law enforcement agencies, as well as maritime coordination. 

Dung stressed that narrowing development gap is an important priority of ASEAN and of Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam (CLMV). 

Vietnam proposed several specific measures and asked ASEAN partners, including New Zealand, to continue offering technical and capacity building support to the bloc, so that ASEAN can successfully conduct the third stage of the Working Plan of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI), towards realising the ASEAN Vision 2025.

Read the full story at VietnamPlus

News Story: Senate sets hearing on Benham Rise security, development

MANILA, Philippines  — The Senate Committee on Economic Affairs will hold a hearing on Wednesday on defense and security concerns in Benham Rise, its chairman said.

In a statement on the Senate website, Sen. Sherwin "Win" Gatchalian said the hearing will be a continuation of a March 7 hearing on a bill filed by Sen. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara to create a Benham Rise Development Authority.

"We have found it prudent to conduct another hearing in order to paint a clearer picture of the facts as we explore long-term strategies to uphold and defend our sovereign rights over the Benham Rise," Gatchalian said.

Benham Rise, which is part of the Philippines' extended continental shelf, has been in the news of late after Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disclosed that a Chinese ship was spotted loitering in the area for three months last year.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Unidentified drone buzzes Philippines Navy ship in Benham Rise

BRP Ramon Alcaraz (Image: Wiki Commons)
By Jaime Laude

MANILA, Philippines - An unidentified aircraft, possibly an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or a drone, buzzed the Philippine Navy warship while the latter was conducting maritime and sovereignty patrol on Benham Rise Friday afternoon.

Navy officials, however, have yet to receive full details on the unexpected “encounter” between the unidentified AUV and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (FF16), a Navy warship sent by the Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) to secure the country’s maritime domain on the Pacific Ocean side. 

“I’ll check first with Nolcom because they have operational control of FF16,” Navy spokesman Capt. Lued Lincuna said in reference to ABS-CBN’s report that a possible drone suddenly appeared in the sky above the patrolling Alcaraz on Friday.

In a text message, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said that as of Saturday afternoon, the aircraft has remained unidentified.The buzzing of Alcaraz on Benham Rise has become viral in a defense blog maintained by defense and military observers.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Duterte - Talks with Misuari, MNLF on track

By Christina Mendez

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte will again talk with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) to discuss the administration’s peace efforts and the plan to set up a federal form of government.

Speaking during the Kaamulan Festival in Malaybalay, Bukidnon yesterday,  Duterte said he is meeting with MNLF founder Nur Misuari to seek his recommendations on setting up a federal form of government.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said a meeting between the President and Misuari took place recently.

“The President had a closed door meeting with chairman Nur Misuari and other MNLF leaders. The Palace will provide an update once information is available,” Abella said yesterday.

Duterte has been pushing for federalism in a bid to address concerns in Mindanao. 

Last Friday, the President brought up the matter anew before businessmen belonging to the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc.

Read the full story at PhilStar